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Gallery Program

Jazz Brunch in conjunction with the exhibition
McArthur Binion and Jules Allen: Me and You

Isaiah Collier and The Chosen Few 
Expansions and Abstractions

Saturday, May 11th
Brunch: 11:30am – 1pm
Live Set: 12 – 1pm

“The abstract form evidenced a possibility.” - Jules Allen 

GRAY is pleased to host Isaiah Collier and The Chosen Few in conjunction with the exhibition McArthur Binion and Jules Allen: Me and You. A love of improvisational jazz brought the two artists together, having been originally introduced to one another by the pioneering cornetist, composer, and conductor Lawrence Douglas “Butch” Morris, amid the rich milieu of what Binion terms the “Second-generation Black avant-garde” of 70s and 80s New York City. Listening to musicians such as Jerome Cooper, Sonny Rollins, Henry Threadgill, Cecil Taylor and Julius Hemphill, Binion and Allen were likewise innovating and improvising within their mediums of painting and photography, combining formal rigor with personal and emotional content in their work.


Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Isaiah Collier has been surrounded by music his entire life. Developing early skills with the piano, saxophone, and his own voice, and with his family's encouragement, Isaiah began performing with his siblings in small clubs and lounges throughout Chicago. Collier credits the guidance of Julian Champion on the saxophone and other mentors for helping him develop his technique and knowledge of music history, a critical aspect of his sound and passion for music. Collier's sound and approach are drawn from the influences of master saxophonists including John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Gene Ammons, as well as his mentors Roscoe Mitchell and Ari Brown.

At the age of only 25, Collier has shared the stage both locally and internationally with musicians including Chance The Rapper, Lewis Nash, Waddada Leo Smith III, Antonio Hart, Junius Paul, James Carter, Rene Marie, Carl Allen, Paul Rogers, Bennie Maupin, Rudy Van Gelder, Angel Bat Dawid. He has played at venues and festivals from notable places such as The Jazz Showcase, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, Lithuania Jazz Festival, The White House, Chicago Jazz Festival, New York Winter Jazz Festival, The Hyde Park Jazz Festivals, Sons D'hiver Festival (Paris), The Logan Center, Frankfurt Jazz Festival, Berlin Jazz Festival, The Harris Theatre, U.S Embassy in Paraguay, and many others.  He is a former fellow of the prestigious Dave Brubeck Institute Stockton, CA.

Collier is best known for his work with his group "Isaiah Collier & The Chosen Few". Their most recent project "The Unapologetic Negro" (2019) and their first release "Return of The Black Emperor" (2017). In addition to receiving a Five Star Review from Downbeat Magazine on his new project "Cosmic Transitions", recorded at The Legendary Rudy Van Gelder's Studio 2021), I AM Beyond 2022, Parallel Universe (2023).


McArthur Binion creates highly personal and labor-intensive works that assert his unique position between Minimalism, identity politics, and abstraction. Binion employs elemental materials including oil-based paint sticks, ink, and graphite to create dense interlacing grids on the surface of his paintings. This handmade geometry is applied to a ground layer of neatly tiled images (reproductions of personal photographs and documents) that offer glimpses into the artist’s life: his birth certificate from Mississippi, which includes the designation “colored,” a photo of the farmhouse where he was born, a passport-sized self-portrait, a musical score by Henry Threadgill commissioned by Binion, or pages from his address book, which capture formative years in New York among contemporaries including Brice Marden, Dan Flavin, and Jack Whitten. Binion’s visuals belie his abstract gridded compositions, disseminating intimate details of his personal and political history while also staking a firm position within the history of Black Abstraction. Highly influenced by poetry and bebop jazz, Binion swings between improvisation and order, Abstraction and biography. His works refuse easy categorization, continuously shifting between a critique and an acceptance of the minimalist aesthetic, ultimately rooting the works in a dedication to the painting process.

Binion received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University, MI, in 1971 and a Master of Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI, in 1973. His work has been featured in major solo and group exhibitions at institutions including the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (2023-24); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2024); Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL (2022); Museo Novecento, Florence, Italy (2020–21); Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2019–21); Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, IL (2018); Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI (2018–19); Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2016–17); and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, TX (2012), among others. His paintings were featured prominently in the 57th Venice Biennale, VIVA ARTE VIVA (2017). 

Public collections include the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Art Bridges Foundation, Bentonville, AR; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Denver Art Museum, CO; Detroit Institute of Art, MI; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA; New Orleans Museum of Art, LA; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.


Jules Allen is an award-winning photographer who creates reality-based images as well as metaphorical documents of which the primary foundation is grounded in behavior, enlightenment, and irony. His photographs express the essential truth that a culture’s power is clearest when presented on its own terms, and, thus, they are evocative of the contemporary American experience. Allen’s images place subjects drawn from the richness of urban black life within universal paradigms.

Allen attended California State University in San Francisco, where he studied photography with Jack Welpott. Jules Allen obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1973 and a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling Psychology in 1975, the latter a conscious choice to facilitate his understanding of human behavior. Moving to New York in 1978, Allen worked as a commercial photographer in editorial, advertising, and entertainment, while actively pursuing the development of a personal vision. His early influences in photography include Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank, as well as Roy DeCarava, his teacher at Hunter College, where Allen obtained a Master of Fine Arts in 1985.

Jules Allen has widely exhibited his work in the United States and abroad, and his photographs are held in museum and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum and  National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; and others. Allen is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Design at Queensborough College. In collaboration with QCC Art Gallery Press, he has published six books: Black Bodies (2002), Double Up (2011), In Your Own Sweet Way (2013), Marching Bands (2016), Good Looking Out (2020), and The Hats or Hat Nots ( 2022). He is currently working on a body of work titled Rhythmology